Amazon Screws Up Mother's Day Order

When Amazon works, it’s a great example of what man and machine can do together to make shopping easier. When it doesn’t work, you’re stuck with a higher-priced camera from Wal-Mart and a second camera you thought was canceled shipped from Amazon, with a refund taking 3-5 days to go through.

My siblings and I decided to go in together and purchase my Mom a nice camera for Mother’s Day. She’s a nice lady, and is getting tired of the one she has, so it seemed like a good idea. The BAD idea was trying to purchase it (along with a few accessories) from Amazon. But, they had it for a great price, and with the free shipping it seemed like a no-brainer.

So I placed my order on 5/1…all seemed well on the Amazon front. I got a confirmation email after placing the order letting me know that it would be shipped on 5/6. It’s never taken more than 3 days for an Amazon order to show up in the past, so I figured it would be fine. After a couple of days, I logged in to Amazon to check up on it, and that’s when I should have gotten worried.

Instead of showing my orders, there was an error message letting me know that there was a problem with Amazon, but rest-assured, they’re working on it and it should be fixed shortly. Right. It gave me the same message the next day, and the next, so on 5/6 I sent Amazon an email asking them to check the status of the order, as it was for Mother’s Day and I needed it by then.

I received a reply email later that day from Naresh letting me know that he would need 1-2 business days to research and he’d get back to me.

After two days (5/8) and no response, I decided to call Amazon. I spoke to a male representative (and I’m pounding my head against the wall for not catching his name, but I didn’t) who let me know that he couldn’t find my order, either. I explained the situation (it’s for my Mom, I need it asap, etc), and he let me know that I could place the order again if I needed it quickly. This wasn’t to my liking, but I wasn’t about to disappoint my Mom (nor face the scorn of my siblings), so I asked when it could be delivered. His answer? Monday. This was not the answer I was looking for, so I asked him to please cancel the order, and I would purchase it locally. He said he would put a note on my account for the order to be cancelled.

So I set off into a raging thunderstorm to the closest store that had the same model camera. Wal-Mart. This is a story for another day, but I ended up paying waaaay more thanks to Wal-Mart’s absolutely ridiculous price-matching policy. So, I’m out some cash, a lot of time, and it ruined my hair. Thanks, Amazon!  

Then, today [Friday May 9], I decided (just for kicks) to check my Amazon account. Lo and behold, it’s fixed! Apparently, my order should be shipped on 5/11 or 5/12. Wait, what??? I am not a happy camper at this point.

So, I just spent another 30 minutes on the phone with Christine H. Bottom line? Amazon can (will) not cancel the order, and I can expect to receive a 2nd camera in the near future.

While she did try to help me as much as she could (and she was very nice), it was obvious that Amazon’s policies limited what (if any) help she could offer me. When I explained that my bank account does not runneth over (thanks to a hefty veterinarian bill) and that, if charged, I would be overdrawn, she said that she would give me an advance refund on the shipment. In 3-5 days, I’ll see my money back in the bank (never mind that Amazon will CHARGE my account as soon as it ships). She did send me an email explaining the very involving process of getting an overdraft fee credited by Amazon, but at this point, I’m just going to suck it up and transfer some emergency (i.e. DON’T TOUCH) money into the account.

It’s not exactly what I would normally qualify as an emergency, but if it will keep me from having to deal with Amazon again, it’s worth it. 

Bottom line? Amazon is the Grinch who stole Mother’s Day…Boo to you, Amazon! (And I still haven’t heard back from Naresh.)

Amanda

Fine, it was a one-off problem, mistakes happen and all that. But why do customer service reps promise to return calls that they never return? This seems to happen across the industry, and it may be the easiest way to improve customer service.

Comments

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  1. unsunder says:

    You should take the camera from Amazon back to Walmart. You’ll get back the difference and your Mom will still have her camera.

  2. Rachael says:

    Really unfortunate- and you wonder why no one can return a call. But I have to share a story of Amazon going above and beyond for me:

    Mom orders me my b-day present from Amazon a week before my birthday, gets 2 day shipping. My birthday rolls around and the gift isn’t here. According to Amazon’s ship screen, it’s out in my neck of the woods but hasn’t been out for delivery yet. We check the next day and it’s been delivered— but not to me.

    I call Amazon: “Where’s my package? It claims it was signed for- WHO signed for this mystery package that clearly wasn’t at my residence?”

    The woman at Amazon was really patient with me and, as it turns out, my face was red pretty quickly because the problem was that mom had put down the wrong address. So the package was sent to my sister’s address only in my city. Oh dear, I thought. Does mom want to pay for a second one of these to come out once she finds out SHE screwed this up?

    Before I had the chance to mull it over, however, the Amazon sales rep said “What’s your current address?” and sent out a replacement to me overnight. Wow: mom screws up, but they not only forgive it and decide not to charge it again, but they overnight the present to me (still giftwrapped!).

  3. GearheadGeek says:

    @unsunder: You’re assuming the 2 cameras are the same SKU. Even if they have the same manufacturer’s model number, they are likely to have a special SKU for Wal-Mart.

  4. searonson says:

    Was this actually ordered from Amazon or with a 3rd party company/shipper who lists through Amazon? It is sometimes easy to miss when you buy through XYZ Company via Amazon.

  5. Coles_Law says:

    If he had a free shipping offer I’m guessing it was Amazon direct. Could be wrong though.

  6. thalia says:

    Did you opt for the free shipping with Amazon? If so, that could be an explanation of the delay. Or if it was ordered from Amazon but shipped through a 3rd party (you always need to check these things before you order, it says what company the item will ship from under the title and if you need something for a particular date, you need to make sure that the allotted time coincides with what Amazon (or their 3rd party company) states as their estimated delivery date and make sure you also have a couple days to spare. I’ve never had anything but great service from Amazon, and whenever a mistake has been made, they always offer an immediate (not to mention extremely satisfactory) resolution for me.

  7. eskimo81 says:

    As for why customer service people never call you back:

    I’ve worked retail for 5 years now, and the most common reason it happens is that the rep forgets.

    When they promise you a call back, they usually mean it. But then as soon as they hang up with you, they have another customer they need to help. Then another. Then another. And by the time they have a moment to call you back, they’ve forgotten.

    One of the things I’ve learned, is that in any customer service environment, you need to write down everything, because you never know when a customer (or a rush of customers) will pull your attention off that important thing you’re doing, sometimes for a few hours even, and when you get a moment, you forget what it was you were doing before.

    Most new CSRs think they’ll remember, and haven’t learned to write this down so that they don’t forget. It turns into overpromising and neglect, but it’s never intended that way.

  8. Rider says:

    If you are going to order something online as a gift ordering it one week before you need it is kind of dumb.

  9. ogremustcrush says:

    @nursethalia: Speaking of Amazon’s free shipping: IT IS VERY SLOW. Unless I don’t need what I ordered for up to 3 weeks, I always pay for shipping when I can get the free. Not only is the shipping itself slower, but Amazon also takes longer to ship it in the first place. If you pay for shipping they ussually get it out the next day.

  10. nsv says:

    Two weeks ago, I ordered a Pentax K20D camera from Amazon, shipped 2nd day air to arrive four days before I needed it. It arrived on time, but wasn’t working properly.

    Pentax said to send it back and they’d reload the firmware and get it back to me a week to ten days after they receive it. That would be just a little beyond the four days I had.

    I called Amazon and explained the situation. Barb L. asked a couple of questions then put me on hold to talk to her supervisor.

    I had a replacement camera the next day.

    I don’t know why Amazon customer service screwed up Amanda’s order, but they really came through for me.

  11. Televiper says:

    It’s the 21st century and obviously everybody is an adult. Why not get mom a card and some flowers and just inform her that her gift was delayed in the mail.

    I’m more upset that my friend went through a weird tizzy because my gifts were late, than having my gifts show up late. I understand the meaning behind having everybody there when mom opens the gift. But, normally Mom puts the gift aside and celebrates having everyone around.

    Also, basic rule for ordering stuff online is at least 12 business days. After that you’re at the mercy of Murphy’s Law.

  12. .Trenchant. says:

    @GearheadGeek:

    1) Compare SKU’s, verify their difference (or 99% chance of a lack thereof)

    2) Assuming there’s a difference, unbox Amazon camera

    3) Place Amazon camera in Wal-Mart box

    4) Ride pet unicorn down to Wal-Mart

    5) Demand refund

  13. ShadowFalls says:

    If it is the same model, just get the one from Amazon and return that to Walmart.

    @GearheadGeek:

    You would be surprised how rarely the SKUs are different.

    Also to note, this is why you have a credit card for these kind of transactions, so your bank account doesn’t get hit like this. It gives you more time to resolves the situation. Also, the solution I mentioned would have worked all so easily.

    I haven’t had issues with Amazon before, your glitch is odd too as I never had a problem that day.

  14. Buran says:

    @eskimo81: It’s called “writing it down”.

  15. eskimo81 says:

    @Buran: Is that not what I said?

  16. LUV2CattleCall says:

    @unsunder: @GearheadGeek: @ogremustcrush: @.Trenchant.:

    I’m willing to bet that the SKUs are the same…however, Wal-Mart may have scanned the serial # upon purchase! Look on the receipt…it there’s no serial number, than you’re in the clear. Also, they will probably compare serial numbers from the item in the box to the box, so make sure that’s consistend…

    Re: Amazon’s slow shipping…get Amazon Prime! You can split it among 5 “family members” – ie get some friends to chip in and it’s less than $15/per person/per year… Then you don’t have to worry about $25 worth of stuff each time, and you get 2-Day shipping for free/overnight for $3.99

    Heck, we even buy toilet paper from Amazon.com now…no tax, no spending money to drive to the store, no time wasted in line..it all ads up!

  17. Daniel-Bham says:

    I’ve been a Prime customer for 3+ years now, couldn’t be happier with Amazon. Lots of things that say “3-5 days to ship” get there in 2 days.

    I just ordered a cover for my pickup truck that weighed 30 lbs, and got free shipping + no tax applied to the order.

    Not to mention having an Amazon visa which earns rewards as I fill up my tank with gas or pay bills with it. Then I get gift certificates $25 at a time from Amazon.

    With a family of 5, I can’t afford to not shop with Amazon really, at least not without being able to maintain a decent lifestyle.

  18. Geekybiker says:

    +1 on just returning one of the cameras to walmart. Occasionally walmart does have a different sku, but its also usually a different model #.